Chargé Coolidge to the Secretary of State.

No. 1876.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that on April 27 the Japanese minister handed me a pro memoria with regard to certain alleged preparations of the Russian war vessels interned at Shanghai for active service. He also stated that his government had made representations on the subject to the American and British Governments. I immediately telegraphed to Mr. Davidson, in Shanghai, for information, and on receipt of his reply wired to the Department, as confirmed below.

* * * * * * *

I have, etc.,

John Gardner Coolidge.
[Inclosure 1.]

Pro memoria from the Japanese Minister at Peking.

According to a report received on the 18th of April the landing of the officers and crew of the Russian war vessels now under detention at Shanghai had been stopped from the preceding day. The deficiency in the officers and crew, it is stated, is to be supplemented from those who are present there after release on parole at Port Arthur, and every preparation is made for putting them to sea at any moment.

It was also reported on the same day that in case the Russian vessels effect their escape from Shanghai they are to be guided down to Wusung by a Russian training ship now at that port, thence to be piloted by Russian officers through a north passage, which they had hitherto been carefully investigating for that purpose.

On the 19th instant it was reported on a reliable authority that the Askold was obtaining on the 17th instant vent pieces, breechblocks, and other things from William Holliday, a British machinery agent.

On the same day it was also reported from a reliable informant that the furnace of the Manjour had been working in full order after midnight of the 16th instant and that there was also no less activity of the same sort on board the Askold, sounds of hammers being heard throughout the same night.

On the 20th instant the Askold was taking on board 300 tons of Cardiff coal besides 1,000 tons of coal which are already kept in her bunkers.

[Inclosure 2.]

Chargé Coolidge to Prince of Ch’ing.

Your Imperial Highness: I am directed by my government to inform your imperial highness that the Japanese Government represented that the Russians are preparing for active service the war vessels interned at Shanghai, a violation of neutrality which the Chinese [Page 143] Government is able to prevent if so disposed; that the Japanese Government having tried in vain to make China realize her sense of responsibility, believes it will be fully justified in taking all necessary measures in order to protect itself against the constant danger arising from practically warlike preparations of the interned vessels.

I am further instructed to point out to your imperial highness the gravity of the situation and to urge that no proper effort be spared by the Chinese Government to maintain its neutrality.

I seize the opportunity, etc.,

John Gardner Collidge.
[Inclosure 3.]

Prince of Ch’ing to Chargé Coolidge.

On the 26th of the 3d moon of this year [April 30, 1905] I had the honor to receive a dispatch from your excellency, stating that the Japanese Government had represented to your government that the Russians were preparing for active service their vessels interned at Shanghai, a direct violation of neutrality which the Chinese Government could prevent if so disposed, and that Japan would feel fully justified in taking all necessary measures to protect itself against the constant danger arising from the practically warlike preparations of the interned Russian vessels; that the situation is very grave, and you urge my governernment to spare no effort to maintain its neutrality.

As to this matter sometime ago my board, hearing it reported that the Russian war vessels interned at Shanghai were scheming to put to sea, sent telegrams repeatedly to the superintendent of trade for the south, instructing him to direct his subordinates concerned to investigate and learn the facts, and received a reply [stating that] the Russian war vessels were in no different condition from that after the removal of parts of their machinery; that additional war vessels had already been detailed [to watch] and in concert with the custom taot’ai were taking strict and secret protective measures; that not the slightest remissness was being shown.

Moreover my board sent a dispatch to the Russian minister [asking him] to instruct the Russian war vessels at Shanghai on no account to attempt such a thing.

Shanghai is a busy commercial port, and it is China’s earnest desire and for the general interest as well that the belligerent nations should avoid any violation [of its neutrality]; China is observing strict neutrality, and will most certainly exert herself to devise means to fully discharge her responsibilities.

I have to thank the American Government for its kind concern, and, as in duty bound, I send this reply for your excellency’s information and that you may transmit the same.

A necessary dispatch.